Disruption caused by COVID-19 Pandemic abruptly giving way to a New Education Order, but those discriminatory dangers remain

The newly discovered Coronavirus, which has caused mayhem and practically locked down the world as the humanity suffers its worst pandemic in many decades, is causing a reshaping of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 2 lakh people in the last four months and as over three million are infected and are adding at a considerable rate, the humanity is at notice.

While this extraordinary situation resulting in the stoppage of economic activities has multiplied efforts at producing a vaccine or a drug against this virus, the dark shadow of this pandemic is expected to last at least one more year as sword of Damocles.

Schools, colleges and universities are social places with tens of thousands in attendance and interactions; so obviously, these are also the potential spots of multiplying transmission of Covid outbreak. Therefore, wisely thousands of institutions in affected regions have been closed down and millions of students forced to stay out of them.

Thanks to education technology that has grown nicely in the last a few years along with Internet, the disruption caused thus, is being mitigated by using online modes, platforms and materials. A lot of institutions and even governments have been well invested in online education and therefore transition to online has been quicker than otherwise.

At the same time, education which had been championed as an outreach force multiplier for bringing about equality and fostering egalitarianism in the society, is now also feeling the reality of digital divide starker than before.  While a class of students has seamlessly switched over to virtual classes, a large number is sitting out. The government on its part is scrambling its resources and repositories to offer some way out, but need for all this has come so sudden that even the best of decisions can’t suffice. The ministry of HRD invited suggestions for online education and thousands of such comments have been received by it. Hopefully, in coming time, a lot of these suggestions may go on floor and change the situation for better.

A more interesting and fascinating aspect of this viral outbreak has been sciences receiving a lot of attention as personal protection equipment and other solutions became a wish of millions. Country’s department of Science & Technology (DST) has been a dark horse and always innovating solutions for various problems. Ditto for IITs and other institutions including DRDO, IISc, universities and individual enthusiasts. It is a warlike situation where scientists, medics, innovators are all at work to defeat this invisible and ‘invincible’ enemy. DST’s innovations and products through collaborative support to startups and others has been a large body of work but more due its being of more an introvert and relying on in-house of a few favorite agencies, its communications aren’t reaching masses. And with the kind urgency needed in these difficult times, DST would be able to popularize more science and innovations as a silver lining.

Health education has also got a boost and people are becoming more health conscious and also equipping themselves with health information and knowledge. However, the state of our medical education and in particular nursing needs more attention and this is an opportunity to romp up a corrective path to health needs of population.